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Name of France

name of france prime minister, name of france before it was france
The name France comes from Latin Francia "land of the Franks"

Originally it applied to the whole Empire of the Franks, extending from southern France to eastern Germany Modern France is still called Frankreich in German and similar names in some other Germanic languages such as Frankrijk in Dutch, which means "Frank Reich", the Realm of the Franks


  • 1 Background
    • 11 Gaul
    • 12 Francia
    • 13 France
  • 2 Meanings of the name France
    • 21 Political meaning
    • 22 Geographical meaning
    • 23 Historical meanings
  • 3 Other names for France
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References



See also: Gaul Celtic Gallia and Roman republic in 58 BC

Before being named France, the land was called Gaul Latin: Gallia; French: Gaule This name continued to be used even after the beginning of the reign of the Franks' Kings Clovis I, Charles Martel, Pepin the Short, and Charlemagne In fact, for as long as the cultural elites of Europe used Latin predominantly, the name Gallia continued to be used alongside the name France In English usage, the words Gaul and Gaulish are used synonymously with Latin Gallia, Gallus and Gallicus However the similarity of the names is probably coincidental; the English words are borrowed from French Gaule and Gaulois, which appear to have been borrowed themselves from Germanic walha-, the usual word for the non-Germanic-speaking peoples Celtic-speaking and Latin-speaking indiscriminately The Germanic w is regularly rendered as gu / g in French cf guerre = war, garder = ward, and the diphthong au is the regular outcome of al before a following consonant cf cheval ~ chevaux Gaule or Gaulle can hardly be derived from Latin Gallia, since g would become j before a cf gamba > jambe, and the diphthong au would be incomprehensible; the regular outcome of Latin Gallia would have been Jaille in French34

Today, in modern French, the word Gaule has disappeared and is only used in a historical context The only current use of the word is in the title of the leader of the French bishops, the archbishop of Lyon, whose official title is Primate of the Gauls Primat des Gaules Gaul is in the plural in the title, reflecting the three Gallic entities identified by the Romans Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania The adjective gaulois Gallic is still sometimes used when a French person wants to stress some idiosyncrasies of the French people entrenched in history, such as nos ancêtres les Gaulois "our ancestors the Gauls", a phrase sometimes used in French when one wants to assert his own identity During the Third Republic, the authorities often referred to notre vieille nation gauloise "our old Gallic nation", a case in which the adjective gaulois is used with a positive connotation The word gallicisme is used sometimes in linguistic to express a specific form to the French language In English, the word Gaul is never used in a modern context The adjective Gallic is sometimes used to refer to French people, occasionally in a derisive and critical way, such as "Gallic pride" The Coq Gaulois Gallic rooster in English is also a national symbol of France, as for the French Football Federation Astérix le Gaulois Asterix, the Gaul is a popular series of French comic books, following the exploits of a village of indomitable Gauls

In Greek, France is still known as Γαλλία Gallia


Main article: Name of the Franks See also: Francia French franc coin 1360 of Charles V, with inscription Francorum Rex "King of the Franks" Burial of Clovis I, King of the Franks, at the Basilica of St Denis near Paris

Under the reign of the Franks' Kings Clovis I, Charles Martel, Pepin the Short, and Charlemagne, the country was known as Kingdom of Franks or Francia At the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the Frankish Empire was divided in three parts : West Francia Francia Occidentalis, Middle Francia and East Francia Francia Orientalis

The rulers of Francia Orientalis, who soon claimed the imperial title and wanted to reunify the Frankish Empire, dropped the name Francia Orientalis and called their realm the Holy Roman Empire see History of Germany The kings of Francia Occidentalis successfully opposed this claim and managed to preserve Francia Occidentalis as an independent kingdom, distinct from the Holy Roman Empire The Battle of Bouvines in 1214 definitively marked the end of the efforts by the Holy Roman Empire to reunify the old Frankish Empire by conquering France

Since the name Francia Orientalis had disappeared, there arose the habit to refer to Francia Occidentalis as Francia only, from which the word France is derived The French state has been in continuous existence since 843 except for a brief interruption in 885–887, with an unbroken line of heads of states since the first king of Francia Occidentalis Charles the Bald to the current president of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron Notably, in German, France is still called Frankreich, which literally means "Reich empire of the Franks" In order to distinguish it from the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne, France is called Frankreich, while the Frankish Empire is called Frankenreich

The name of the Franks itself is said to come from the Proto-Germanic word frankon which means "javelin, lance" Another proposed etymology is that Frank means "the free men", based on the fact that the word frank meant "free" in the ancient Germanic languages However, rather than the ethnic name of the Franks coming from the word frank "free", it is more probable that the word frank "free" comes from the ethnic name of the Franks, the connection being that only the Franks, as the conquering class, had the status of freemen

In a tradition going back to the 7th-century Chronicle of Fredegar, the name of the Franks itself is taken from Francio, one of the Germanic kings of Sicambri, c 61 BCE, whose dominion extended all along those lands immediately joining the west-bank of the Rhine River, as far as Strasbourg and Belgium1 This nation is also explicitly mentioned by Julius Caesar in his Notebooks on the Gallic War Commentarii de Bello Gallico

The name of the former French currency, the franc, comes from the words engraved on the coins of the Frankish King, Rex Francorum, meaning "King of the Franks" or "Roi des Francs" in French


See also: France

In most of the Latin languages, France is known by the word "France" or any of its derivatives, for example Francia in Italian and Spanish

In most of the Germanic languages, France is known as the historical "Land of the Franks", for example Frankreich Reich of the Franks in German, Frankrijk Rijk of the Franks in Dutch, Frankrike Rike of the Franks in Swedish and Norwegian, Frankrig in Danish

Meanings of the name Franceedit

The name "France" and its adjective "French" can have four different meanings which it is important to distinguish in order to avoid ambiguities Its origin is the Germanic word "frank" which means "free" and is also a male name

Political meaningedit

In a first meaning, "France" means the whole French Republic In that case, "French" refers to the nationality, as it is written on the French ID card: "Nationalité : française"

Geographical meaningedit

In a second meaning, "France" refers to metropolitan France only, meaning mainland France

Historical meaningsedit

In a third meaning, "France" refers specifically to the province of Île-de-France with Paris at its centre which historically was the heart of the royal demesne This meaning is found in some geographic names, such as French Brie Brie française and French Vexin Vexin français French Brie, the area where the famous Brie cheese is produced, is the part of Brie that was annexed to the royal demesne, as opposed to Champagne Brie Brie champenoise which was annexed by Champagne Likewise, French Vexin was the part of Vexin inside Île-de-France, as opposed to Norman Vexin Vexin normand which was inside Normandy

This meaning is also found in the name of the French language langue française, whose literal meaning is "language of Île-de-France" It is not until the 19th and 20th centuries that the language of Île-de-France indeed became the language of the whole country France In modern French, the French language is called le français, while the old language of Île-de-France is called by the name applied to it according to a 19th-century theory on the origin of the French language – le francien

In a fourth meaning, "France" refers only to the Pays de France, one of the many pays Latin: pagi, singular pagus of Île-de-France French provinces are traditionally made up of several pays, which are the direct continuation of the pagi set up by the Roman administration during Antiquity The province of Île-de-France is thus made up of several pays: Pays de France, Parisis, Hurepoix, French Vexin, and so on Pays de France is the extremely fertile plain located immediately north of Paris which supported one of the most productive agriculture during the Middle Ages and was responsible for the tremendous wealth of the kingdom of France before the Hundred Years' War, making possible the emergence of the Gothic art and architecture which spread all over western Europe Pays de France is also called Plaine de France ie "Plain of France" Its historic main town is Saint-Denis, where the first gothic cathedral in the world was built in the 12th century, and inside which the kings of France are buried Pays de France is now almost entirely built up, being but the northern extension of the Paris suburbs

This fourth meaning is found in many place names, such as the town of Roissy-en-France, on whose territory is located Charles de Gaulle Airport The name of the town literally means "Roissy in the Pays de France", and not "Roissy in the country France" Another example of the use of France in this meaning is the new Stade de France, which was built near Saint-Denis for the 1998 Football World Cup It was decided to call the stadium after the Pays de France, to give it a local touch In particular, the mayor of Saint-Denis made it very clear that he wanted the new stadium to be a stadium of the northern suburbs of Paris and not just a national stadium which happens to be located in the northern suburbs The name is intended to reflect this, although few French people know this story and the great majority associates it with the country's name

Other names for Franceedit

In Hebrew France is called צרפת Tzarfat In Māori France is known as Wīwī, derived from the French phrase oui, oui yes, yes2

See alsoedit

  • List of country-name etymologies


  1. ^ David Solomon Ganz, Tzemach David, part 2, Warsaw 1859, p 9b Hebrew; Polish name of book: Cemach Dawid; cf JM Wallace-Hadrill, Fredegar and the History of France, University of Manchester, nd pp 536–538
  2. ^ Matras Y, Sakel J Grammatical Borrowing In A Cross-Linguistic Perspective 2007 p 322

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